PolitiFact Wisconsin's 'High Five' for April 2019

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the opening of "Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery March 28, 2019, in Washington. (Associated Press).
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the opening of "Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery March 28, 2019, in Washington. (Associated Press).
Barricades were placed to try and prevent drivers from hitting a large pothole near 272 E. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee on Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Barricades were placed to try and prevent drivers from hitting a large pothole near 272 E. Capitol Drive in Milwaukee on Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

In 1922, poet T.S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruelest month."

Democrat Hillary Clinton might agree. A claim of hers that we rated Pants on Fire was our most-clicked item for April 2019

Here’s a look at our "High Five."

1. Clinton: In Wisconsin, because a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was not in effect,  "somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000 people were turned away from the polls (in 2016) because of the color of their skin" and other factors.

Clinton’s remarks were part of a March 3, 2019, program marking the 54th anniversary of the first civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. Marchers that day were met and beaten by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in what became known as "Bloody Sunday. "

Clinton was wrong about the impact of the Voting Rights Act not being in effect in Wisconsin making a difference, since the provision in question never applied to Wisconsin. Clinton also had problems with the numbers on both ends of her range.

What’s more, the claim -- and others like it -- put all of the blame for people not voting on the state’s photo ID law. That ignored other factors, such as a lack of enthusiasm from voters, or the belief -- one apparently shared by candidate Clinton -- that the state was a safe one for her in 2016 because she never campaigned in Wisconsin during the general election.

We rated the claim Pants on Fire.

2. State Sen. LaTonya Johnson: "Our road conditions cost WI families. In Milwaukee, the average cost per driver is $2,300."

In his 2019-’21 budget, Gov. Tony Evers’ transportation plan calls for bringing in an additional $520 million over two years from an increased gas tax and higher transportation fees.

Johnson, a Milwaukee Democrat, made the claim April 3, 2019 on Twitter in support of Evers’ plan.

TRIP, a frequently cited national nonprofit that researches and evaluates data on transportation issues, calculated the cost to the average motorist per year in the state’s largest urban areas in the form of additional vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on rough roads, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to congestion, and the financial cost of traffic crashes.

It put Milwaukee at: $2,321

The figure, though, includes much more than costs tied directly to road conditions -- which was the focus of Johnson’s tweet. If you focus more strictly on the condition of local roads -- which is what the Evers’ proposal is aimed at improving -- you get a much smaller amount for Milwaukee: $944.

That was more in line with other ratings on road conditions.

Johnson’s claim was rated Mostly False.

3. Republican Party of Wisconsin: "FYI: the last statewide recount in WI was in 2016. After that recount, the vote margin changed by only 131 out of the 2.7 million votes cast."

The race between appeals court judges Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer for the Supreme Court was a tight one.

After the polls closed, Hagedorn held a narrow lead and declared victory. The day after the election, the Republican Party of Wisconsin made its claim in a tweet.

In 2016, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein sought a recount after Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin since 1984. Stein received just over 31,000 votes, but was able to force a recount under state law by agreeing to pay the $3.5 million cost.

The original margin between Trump and Clinton was 22,617 votes. After the recount, the margin was 22,748 -- an increase of 131 votes. That part of the claim made by the GOP was on the money.

Meanwhile, according to BallotPedia, here are the 2016 presidential Wisconsin voting results:

Donald Trump -- 1,405,284 (Republican

Hillary Clinton -- 1,382,536  (Democrat)

Gary Johnson -- 106,674 (Libertarian)

Jill Stein -- 31,072 (Green)

Darrell Lane Castle ---12,162 (Constitution)

Monica Moorehead --- 1,770 (Workers Party)

Rocky De La Fuente ---1,502 (American Delta)

Write-in votes --- 35,150

Total -- 2,976,150

That’s more than the 2.7 million claimed in the GOP’s tweet. We rated the claim Mostly True.

4. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna: "GOP leaders have "made overtures to meet on a regular basis," but Gov. Tony Evers has "refused to even meet with us."

The relationship between Evers, a Democrat, and Republican legislative leaders has been icy at best since Evers took office in January 2019.

Both sides have claimed they want to work together, while accusing the other side of failing to do so. The claim from Steineke came March 31, 2019, on WISN-TV’s UpFront program.

Steineke’s claim prompted a back-and-forth on Twitter between the respective leaders.

Evers tweeted the next day that he had met with more than 100 lawmakers from both parties. He included pictures of several of those meetings — including one with Steineke.

Evers has, as Steineke notes, shown little interest in regular sit-downs like his Republican predecessor. But Steineke was off base claiming there was a refusal to meet. His staff offered no evidence of a specific meeting being refused.

We rated Steineke’s claim Half True.

5. Wisconsin Assembly Republicans: "Governor Evers' budget would increase property taxes by the largest amount in a decade."

Republicans say more money will be leaving taxpayer pockets under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget than any time in the recent past. They made the above claim in a March 27, 2019, tweet.

The estimate they relied on does show the largest year-over-year increase since 2009-’10. But the increase is not solely a result of Evers’ budget.

Rather, it is based, in part, on a host of decisions by voters in referendums, by local units of government and by Walker and Republican leaders in years past. Indeed, the overall impact of Evers’ budget is to help keep the increase in check.

We rated the claim Half True.